Table of Content
These days, students have a great number of credit card options that are tailored to their typical requirements. Two such examples are the Discover Student Cash Back and Capital One Journey.
While these are both student cards, there are some crucial differences that will influence if one is a better option for you compared to the other.
Side By Side Comparison
Simulation: Which Card Gives More Rewards?
It can be difficult to work out which card will actually represent the greatest rewards.
So, here we’ve compiled a scenario comparison, so you can see what you could earn with similar spending.
Spend Per Category
Discover it® Student Cash Back
Capital One Journey Student
$6,000 – U.S Supermarkets
$2,000 – Restaurants
$1,000 – Airline
$1,000 – Hotels
$2,000 – Gas
Estimated Annual Value – First Year
Estimated Annual Value
* The Discover it Student Cash Back offers higher cash back on rotating categories up to $6,000/year. We assume full utilization, calculating the total amount under "U.S Supermarkets" category.
** %1.25 cash back if you pay on time
As you can see, the Discover Student Cash Back card offers significantly more cash back in a typical month.
Compare Welcome Bonus
In this first area of comparison, the card issuers have taken a very different approach. While Capital One offers up to $5 per month for 12 months on select streaming subscriptions when you pay on time, Discover has extended its reward match to this card.
This means that Discover will add up all the cash back you earn during your first year and match it. This means that if you earned $30 a month cash back, at the end of your first year, you’ll receive an impressive $360.
Which is the better sign up bonus will depend on your preferences and habits. If you can’t live without your streaming services, you may appreciate the Capital One Journey bonus more than the promise of a cash back match at the end of the year.
Additionally, the Capital One bonus is worth $60 a year, so you’ll need to make sure you can earn more than $5 a month in cash back to equal it with the Discover cash back match.
At first glance, the fee structure appears similar for both cards. Neither card has an annual fee or foreign transaction fees, but this is where the similarities end.
For example, Discover only has a 3% balance transfer fee for a limited time, then it will revert to a %5 fee. On the other hand, while Discover’s rate is 17.24% – 26.24% Variable APR, Capital One has set its rate at a hefty 29.74% (Variable).
So, while it will be cheaper to transfer a balance, the higher rates on the Capital One Journey give the Discover Student Cash back the edge in this fee comparison.
Compare The Perks
Student cards typically offer some nice perks that are designed for this age group and these cards are no exception.
The outstanding benefits are tailored for those in education who are looking to build credit and earn rewards.
The Discover Student Cash Back offers:
- $20 statement credit each year for up to five years when you maintain a 3.0 or higher GPA.
- Refer a friend scheme: You can earn up to $100 in statement credit when you refer a friend to specific card offers sent via your unique link.
- Freeze It: You can log in and freeze your account to avoid using your card for cash advances or new purchases if you feel your spending is getting out of control.
The Capital One Journey benefits include:
- Access to your credit score: You can monitor your credit profile via Capital One’s CreditWise platform. This is a free tool that will allow you to access your credit score and keep an eye on your credit building progress.
- Credit line review: You’ll be automatically considered for a higher credit line in approximately six months.
- Capital One assistant program: Eno is Capital One’s assistant, working 24/7 to help you keep your account on track. You can text for balance inquiries, recent transactions, paying your bill, and more.
Compare The Drawbacks
Of course, no credit card is perfect and both of these cards do have some potential drawbacks.
Discover it® Student Cash Back
You will need to manually activate each of the bonus categories in order to get the rewards.
As the bonus categories are changing every quarter, you need to keep track of which categories are currently active.
While the cash back match is a potentially lucrative introductory bonus, you will not see this bonus for a full year. So, if you want your bonus immediately, the Capital One Journey is a better option.
Capital One Journey Student
Additionally, unlike the Student Cash Back, there is no 0% introductory rate with the Journey.
Although Discover offers a range of rates for its Student Cash Back card, the rate for the Capital One Journey is fixed at a high rate.
Compare Redemption Options
As with its other cards, Discover offers a variety of redemption options for its Student Cash Back card. You can:
- Request cash to deposit into your bank account or apply as statement credit to your bill
- Pay at checkout with Amazon.com and Paypal.
- Get a gift card: There is a selection of gift card options for popular retailers from $5. You’ll also get an added bonus on each gift card.
- Make a charitable donation: You can also use your cash back to donate to a charitable cause.
Capital One also offers various ways to redeem your Journey card rewards. These include:
- Cash: You can request a check or apply your rewards as statement credit for the highest cash back redemption.
- Coverage for recent purchases. You can apply your rewards to directly cover one of your recent purchases.
- Gift cards: Like Discover, Capital One also has a selection of gift card options that you can use at popular retailers.
- Amazon and PayPal purchases: You can use your rewards for purchases at Amazon.com or link your card to your PayPal account to pay for purchases.
How to Maximize Cards Benefits?
If you want to make the best use of your Student Cash Back card, there are some tips to help you:
- Check the bonus category calendar. Discover publishes the full calendar of each quarter’s bonus categories that offer 5% cash back. So, be sure to check the calendar and try to strategically plan larger purchases to maximize your cash back
- Make bigger purchases in year one: Since Discover will match your cash back from your first year, try to make any larger purchases during this time to get a double bonus. If possible, stack these purchases with the bonus categories we discussed above, so you could earn up to 10% cash back!
- Hit the books: Don’t forget that you’ll get $20 in statement credit each year for five years if you can maintain a 3.0 or higher GPA.
If you want to make the best use of your Capital One Journey Student card, there are some tips to help you:
- Pay your bills on time: You’ll get an extra 0.25% in cash back if you make your monthly payments on time. If you struggle to keep on top of your bills, set up auto pay to ensure you’re not late and you don’t miss out.
- Pay for your streaming services with your card: You’ll get $5 in statement credit each month for a year.
Customer Reviews: Which Card Wins?
Student Cash Back
Capital One Journey Student
App Rating (iOS)
App Rating (Android)
BBB Rating (A-F)
Satisfied borrowers report that the app is remarkably easy to use and makes managing your account simple. There are also comments praising the cash back match, which can give you a nice bonus at the end of the first year. There are no maximums, so if you maximize your cash back throughout the year, you could hit the jackpot.
Negative reviews report frustration at the limited window to make balance transfers at the reduced rate. Considering Capital One offers the same rate indefinitely, this is certainly a valid point.
Satisfied borrowers report that this card is widely accepted, easy to use with no complicated tiers or categories and can be a good card for starters. You can simply use the card for all your purchases and accumulate cash back.
Negative reviews relate to the minimal introductory bonuses. While Discover has the cash back match and 0% 6 months on purchases, Capital One offers just $5 per month for 12 months on select streaming subscriptions when you pay on time, which seems a little stingy considering the high APR.
Students can often have a tough time as their lack of credit history can be a barrier for many products.
While the Discover Student Cash Back and Capital One Journey both are decent cards for those don't have a credit history and have flexible credit requirements, the cards are quite different.
When You Might Want the Discover it® Student Cash Back?
The Discover it® Student Cash Back is a great option that could be good you're looking for:
The Discover Student Cash Back Card is a solid choice if:
- You are prepared to activate the bonus categories each quarter
- You are happy to wait to receive your introductory bonus at the end of year one
When You Might Want the Capital One Journey Student?
The Capital One Journey Card is a decent choice if:
- You don’t like messing with spending categories and reward tiers, since you’ll earn 1% cash back on all your purchases with no caps or categories and a bonus if you pay on time.
- You enjoy streaming services in $5 per month for 12 months on select streaming subscriptions when you pay on time.
- You need help building your credit and managing your account and will appreciate Eno, the Capital One virtual assistant and CreditWise tool.